Lucy Dinnison-Mitchell, a consultant with recruitment firm Hender Consulting, says the benefits of gaining work experience are well documented but many people still fail to heed the advice.
“Employers want people who show initiative and can be proactive in getting experience outside the school environment.”
Starting part-time work or volunteering while studying provides the most benefit, as it demonstrates important commitment and time management skills, Dinnison-Mitchell says.
But it is not too late for those part-way through their studies to also gain work experience, as even having a little experience is better than nothing, she says.
“Ideally, you should look for work experience that’s as relevant as possible to what you are studying – if you’re studying to be a teacher you could look for tutoring opportunities or if you’re studying nursing look at [working] in an aged care facility,” Dinnison-Mitchell says.
“But it could be as simple as [volunteering] in a sporting team to show you are doing something outside of your studies and that you can work in a team environment.
Dinnison-Mitchell advises students to take advantage of their tertiary provider’s links to employers and industry and find out about vocational and graduate programmes on offer.
“Appropriate qualifications will naturally give you a competitive edge to get whatever career you are going for but all these [work and volunteer] experiences build up your employability skills, which is what employers are looking for,” she says.